I’m not saying he should do it, I’m saying he’s obviously going to do it. In which case, what’s the hold up? Even the squishiest immigration moderates in the Senate have given up on a compromise with Democrats and called for him to issue an emergency decree. The Republicans whom you might expect to push back hardest on a declaration of emergency, like Trump nemesis Mitt Romney, are either dodging questions about it or refusing to flatly say Trump shouldn’t do it when they do answer. POTUS has the green light from his own party.
And he probably has a silent green light from Democrats too. They must recognize by now that there’ll be no deal and no Trump surrender given that he has the alternative of declaring an emergency instead of capitulating. The best realistic outcome at this point is an emergency decree followed by the government quickly re-opening. No need to prolong the pain to federal workers, some of whom are selling their belongings on Craigslist to make rent, or the wider public any longer. Let’s wrap this sh*tshow up.
The only reason for Trump to continue to hold off would be if he had deep civic misgivings about executive overreach or the precedent this would set for his successors, which — c’mon. There’s nothing holding him back. Yet, as I write this at 10:45 ET, all’s quiet on the emergency front. How come?
Is … is this the reason?
Waiting until he breaks the record so he can say he shut down the government longer than anyone else ('the greatest shutdown in American history!') because that's how serious he was about the wall as part of his defense when the courts sink him.
— Kyle Conner (@udkyle) January 11, 2019
Today is Day 21, tied for the longest shutdown in American history. All he needs to do is wait until tomorrow and he’ll have the record. And Trump loves records. The biggest ratings, the best people, the longest shutdowns. Except in this case, extending the shutdown to record-setting lengths wouldn’t be a simple matter of idle boasting. It would underscore the real point of this standoff, proving Trump’s burning commitment to building the wall (after doing next to nothing to make it happen during two years of Republican control of Congress). “You think I don’t care about the wall? I just pulled off the longest shutdown in history to try to get it done,” he’ll say. That won’t stop Ann Coulter from yelling at him but it’ll satisfy virtually everyone else.
Philip Klein imagines the worst-case scenario for righties if Trump declares a national emergency and this standoff moves to the courtroom. The worst case isn’t that he loses in court, it’s that he wins — and then loses the presidency next year:
That brings us to the final scenario, which would undoubtedly be the worst case scenario for conservatives. In that case, Trump wins the case in court, but the decision comes too late for him to get much construction done by the end of his first term. Then, he loses reelection. The next Democratic president could then stop construction on the border wall, but still turn around and use the precedent set by court decision as a means of advancing any big ticket liberal items that can’t get through Congress. In this case, conservatives give the next Democratic president a blank check, and don’t even have a wall to show for it. Nightmare.
If conservatives are skeptical this could happen, they should think about Harry Reid, who as majority leader nuked the filibuster for nominees, allowing the Senate to confirm them with a simple majority. Reid went nuclear in Nov. 2013, a year before Democrats lost control of the Senate. Thus, Democrats were only able to get limited use out of the move before Republicans took over the Senate a year later, and now Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have used it to confirm two Supreme Court picks and 85 total federal judges so far, and expect to pick up the pace over the next two years.
There’s a silver lining for the right to any other potential outcome except that one. If Trump wins in court and then wins reelection, the wall probably gets built. If he loses in court and also loses reelection, at least there’ll be a legal precedent on the books blocking his successor from claiming emergency powers. If he loses in court but wins reelection, he might be able to swing a deal with Congress to build the wall anyway in his second term. But winning in court and losing the White House would be a disaster. How lucky do you feel?
Klein makes another good point about the precedential considerations here. Trumpers dismiss those concerns on grounds that Democrats will inevitably abuse their powers once they’re back in charge, in which case Republicans might as well abuse them first. (Civics 101!) But abuses of power risk political blowback; there’s always a chance they’ll enrage the public and backfire electorally. Would McConnell have nuked the filibuster for Neil Gorsuch, wonders Klein, if he didn’t have cover from Harry Reid’s decision to nuke the filibuster for other executive nominees years earlier? Never mind McConnell, actually — would Collins and Murkowski and Flake and Corker have voted to nuke it without that cover? Democratic criticism of the GOP’s move on Gorsuch was enfeebled by the fact that they were guilty of the same sin themselves. They couldn’t make a credible case to the public that what McConnell was doing was outrageously extraordinary. The GOP will be in the same position on emergency powers, and Dems from red states who might otherwise waver in supporting a president from their party who overreaches will be well aware of it.
Then again, none of them wavered much when Obama came down from the mountain with DACA and DAPA in his arms, did they? Ah well.
Trump’s now calling the crisis at the border an “invasion,” which I assume means it won’t be long before we get that emergency decree after all. Via the Free Beacon, here’s a highlight reel of congressional Dems inching away from Pelosi on her idiotic claim that it’d be “immoral” to build a border wall. If nothing else, at least this fight has forced centrists to push back — a little — on the open-borders nuts within the party.